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© Lemon42

New subtitle and information system at the Wiener Staatsoper: Six languages, comprehensive information system

In time for the start of the new 2017/2018 season, the Wiener Staatsoper will be commissioning an entirely new subtitle and information system. The new system will be operational right from the first performance on 4 September 2017: Verdi’s Il trovatore.

With immediate effect, audiences will have a choice of any one of six languages: besides English and German as before, subtitles will also be available in Italian, French, Russian and Japanese. And before all opera and ballet performances and during the intervals, they will also be able to use an information programme (available in English and German). Amongst other things, this will include a brief synopsis of the work, the cast of the respective performance, general information and current information as well as the possibility of registering for a newsletter. Very soon, visitors will also be able to place orders for drinks and snacks during the intervals.

After 16 years, it was necessary to replace the original subtitle system installed in September 2001, as it had become liable to errors and an increasing number of displays were starting to fail. The requirements for the new system included increasing the number of translations available by providing additional languages (previously only English and German were available), improving the readability of the subtitles, and – in addition to the subtitles – also introducing a comprehensive modern infotainment system.

Following exhaustive analysis and an international tendering process, the Wiener Staatsoper commissioned the Austrian internet software company Lemon42 with project management, and the Italian-Swiss Marconi company as subcontractor for the development of the subtitle software and the hardware. The internet agency is also responsible for the infotainment software and the programming of the user interface.

In collaboration with various in-house departments, a total of 2,021 displays were installed in the auditorium in just six weeks. The equipment was purpose developed, is controlled by cables, and uses a special operating system. The subtitles are displayed on the high-resolution displays in white lettering on a black background, making them much more easily readable, and filter foils restrict scattered light so as to ensure that one’s neighbours are not disturbed.